Shoulder holsters have been around for a long time, certainly before Sonny brought the Miami Classic into vogue in the 1980s series of Miami Vice. They are still a viable option for concealed carry, but with a few caveats.
Generally, you need just the right cover garment: not too tight, but not too loose. And, of course, that cover garment has to stay on. If your cover garment is a sport coat, you have to be careful to keep it gathered about you. A gust of wind or a raised arm can quickly reveal that you are armed. Further, do what you can to keep from touching other people. While guns and reloads reside under the arms and are generally out of reach from other people, even the shoulder straps can be felt if someone puts a hand on your back.
Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:
- Top Five Pieces of Gear for an Individual First Aid Kit
- Top Five Outside-the-Waistband Holsters
- And Top Five Magazine Holsters
- Top Five Night Sights for Handguns
- Top Five .38 Special Self-Defense Rounds
Possibly the biggest advantage of a shoulder holster is the ability to carry guns of various shapes and sizes. Depending on the cover garment, they allow very fast access to the gun. Check out my top five shoulder rigs.
1. Galco VHS Shoulder System
While Galco’s Miami Classic may be the more popular shoulder holster systems the company offers, I am highlighting the Vertical Holster System (VHS) because of the vertical orientation in which the gun is carried. This system carries the gun with the muzzle down.
While a properly holstered gun is generally as safe as safe can be, some people (including me) prefer to strictly follow the gun safety rule that says, “Don’t let the muzzle of point at anything you don’t want destroyed.” A horizontal holster points your gun directly behind you — at people and things you probably do not want destroyed. The advantage the vertically holstered gun is that it points in a safe direction.
With the Galco VHS, you enjoy premium steer hide, a wide harness and a swivel backplate. All those factors add up to durable, comfortable concealed carry. It can accommodate a revolver or auto-loading pistol and includes a magazine carrier or ammo dump pouch. It can also accept tie-downs for each side.
The Galco VHS Shoulder System retails for $230.00. For more information visit GalcoGunLeather.com.
2. Diamond D Simple Shoulder Rig
Made in Alaska (where gear needs to be eminently functional and durable), the Diamond D Simple Shoulder Rig (SSR) also manages to be exceptionally comfortable and good-looking. Available for right- or left-handed shooters, the SSR gear can be tied down to your belt with adjustable straps. Included gear is a gun-specific holster and a double mag pouch. You can holster your revolver with this rig if that is your gun of choice.
With an autoloader, the holster is an open muzzle design and offers a snap thumb break. A tension screw allows you to adjust the draw effort. The leather is made from American saddle leather. The firm holster leather adds stability and security while the supple strap leather provides good comfort. Best of all, this rig can fit someone with up to a 58-inch chest.
Diamond D’s Simple Shoulder Rig retails for $220.00. For more information visit DiamondDCustomLeather.com.
3. Falco Roto Shoulder Holster
This holster provides an interesting twist on the vertical carry of a shoulder holster. Unsnapping the steel-reinforced thumb break allows the holster to tip forward for an easier draw. Made from hand-molded leather, the Falco Roto Shoulder Holster can be right- or left-handed and comes in mahogany, brown and black. A lacquered finish gives the leather a nice shine and smooth feel.
No clothing will get hung up on it, and it will not grab at any of your garments. Putting it on and adjusting it to your dimensions is simple too. The straps stay where you put them, and the rig moves well with your normal movements.
Roto comes with a five-year limited warranty and a retail price of $122.95. For more information visit FalcoHolsters.com.
4. Black Hills Leather BH7S
Shoulder holster systems made with premium leather, while exceptionally durable, can pose a unique challenge to someone who is looking to lighten the load. All that leather has mass and weight. Even when the weight is distributed evenly over the shoulders, carry rigs can literally be a drag after a long day. This is one of the costs of concealed carry, and we accept that.
But if you want to lighten up a bit with a shoulder rig, the Black Hills Leather BH7S does just that. It is a single shoulder rig that reduces the leather strapping by half. It is still a stable rig because the leather straps are balanced by an elastic strap. The holster features a thumb break and a molded sight channel, which is a very useful feature not only for protecting a sight, but also for easing the draw. A tension screw allows you to adjust the draw effort. It is available in black, dark chestnut and russet.
Retail price for the Black Hills Leather BH7S is $139.95. For more information visit BlackHillsLeather.com.
5. Aker Comfort Flex Revolver Shoulder Holster
The Aker Comfort Flex Revolver Shoulder Holster offers a holster that is custom-molded to your revolver. The harness is designed to wrap around you comfortably, keeping the weight of the rig on your shoulders without riding up your back.
Moreover, the Comfort Flex fits up to a 62-inch chest, and the solid brass Chicago screws and plastic keepers will last a lifetime. The holster attaches to the rear strap at a point on the lower edge of the holster, a feature which helps maximize concealment.
Opposite the gun holster are a pair of speedloader pouches, which balance the rig out. Tie-downs are also available. No retail price is available because the product cannot be ordered online. Send an email to Aker to get one made. For more information visit AkerLeather.com.
Do you carry a gun in a shoulder holster? Let us know which one and what you think of it.
About the Author: Mark Kakkuri is a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.
Discover how you can join more than 200,000 responsibly armed Americans who already rely on the USCCA to protect their families, futures and freedoms: USCCA.com/gunsamerica.